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Page last updated at 07:16 GMT, Thursday, 7 April 2011 08:16 UK

Murray determined to find strong-minded coach

Andy Murray
Murray is pondering how to improve his form before the Aegon Championships

By Piers Newbery

"I'm not looking for a comedian," says a cheerful Andy Murray when asked about his search for a new coach.

That comes as something of a relief, bearing in mind the high points of his last two months have been a well-received turn on Comic Relief alongside the Outnumbered cast and an April Fool's joke that caught out several leading lights of the media.

Beyond that, the tennis has been as poor as at any time in his career and he admits to having felt "lost" on court in a run of three straight defeats since his second successive Australian Open final loss in January.

"After Australia, the night I lost in the final, I had a really long conversation with my mum and with Jez [Green, physical trainer] about what I felt I needed to work on," reveals Murray.

In Miami, I was getting more angry. In Indian Wells, I was just kind of lost

Andy Murray

"Last year, there was no chance I was going to speak to anyone, whereas this year I felt like I was playing well, I was really disappointed with the final, but I knew the little things I wanted to improve on.

"Then it wasn't until maybe four or five weeks afterwards that I actually spent any time on court working on any of these things and, all of a sudden, it becomes a bit of a rush. You have like a week or 10 days to get ready for Indian Wells.

"It seemed like I was trying to do so many things - work on coming to the net, play a bit closer to the baseline, use the forehand down the line a bit more, step in on my backhand a bit more. All of these things I was thinking, going into the match, and you really need to go into a match with a clear mindset but it didn't really feel that way.

"It probably showed in my body language and my mental state. In Miami, I was getting more angry. In Indian Wells, I was just kind of lost. I wasn't really doing a whole lot on court. I need to get back to the basics of my game and I think I'll start playing well again soon."

Guidance is required and it will come in the form of a new coach, following the parting of the ways with Alex Corretja in March, but finding the right person could prove the biggest decision of his career to date.

In the meantime, Murray will call on coaches such as Darren Cahill and Sven Groeneveld, who are part of his sponsor Adidas's player development programme, until a permanent appointment is made.

Ivan Lendl
Lendl has been touted as a potential coach for Murray

Illustrious names like Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors have thrown their hat into the ring in recent days but the Scot is not the type to be star-struck.

"I'm looking for someone who can come to the big events with me, who isn't restricted in terms of the weeks they can do," explains Murray. "If they can't come to the French Open, for example, then for me that's quite a big negative. I'd like them to be around at the big events.

"For a lot of ex-players, it's easy to say, 'Yeah, I'd like to coach him,' but it's a big commitment and you can't just dip in and out of big events and spend two weeks with the player and not see them for six weeks. To me, communicating over the phone in sport doesn't really work. You need to spend quality time on the practice courts."

Murray is speaking at a sunbathed Queen's Club, and poses on court with the trophy he won in 2009 as he confirms he will return to the Aegon Championships this summer, but the lightness of mood does not stop the 23-year-old taking on some of the accepted truths that circulate about him.

"I've heard people say that I don't listen," he states. "I spoke to Darren Cahill a lot in Miami and I was saying to him that I think questioning stuff is the way to improve things.

"He was saying that as a coach you can't have a good relationship with a player if you aren't able to ask the thorough questions, and he doesn't bother to ask you questions."

MURRAY'S MISERY IN 2011
v Alex Bogomolov - L 1-6 5-7
v Donald Young - L 6-7 3-6
v Marcos Baghdatis - L 4-6 1-6
v Novak Djokovic - L 4-6 2-6 3-7

Cahill is unlikely to be available full-time because of other commitments, so it is tempting to think 'that's easy for him to say' as he is unlikely to be the person dealing with Murray on a day-to-day basis.

But between the contradiction of the world number four's often surly on-court manner and the very obvious sense of humour he shares with his team away from the cameras, nobody has ever doubted his professionalism. He has been deadly serious about getting to the very top since he left Scotland for Spain at the age of 15.

Having long since proved he can beat the very best - but with a Grand Slam title still eluding him - Murray should be the biggest prize out there for any top coach, but the job spec suggests the next appointment will need a thick skin.

"It shouldn't be a problem to disagree, it happens all the time," he says. "I'm sure many people have disagreed with me and I've disagreed with people. I think it's good to talk about it calmly. You should be able to discuss it and it's important the person has the confidence to explain to you why.

"I want to have someone I can have that good communication with so that, when you ask 'why', you get an explanation and can be shown - whether it's on video or on the court - why you might be doing something and how it's going to work. I think it's important you can see things visually. It can help a lot and it's something I haven't really done over the last couple of years.

"Once I started watching 10, 15, 20 minutes of video of myself over the last month, there are things I could pick up within minutes and think, 'I can't believe I was doing that.'"

Brad Gilbert can testify to the potential ferocity of Murray's point of view, having sat through several on-court outbursts during his 16-month time with the Briton four years ago, with plenty of vitriol aimed squarely in his direction. But Murray insists he is mature enough to take it from a coach, as well as give it.

"When it's necessary," he stresses. "It's important to have someone you have respect for and someone that doesn't take any crap. If you're getting away with mediocre sessions, it doesn't have to be screaming at you but it can be taking you to one side and explaining to you things aren't good.

"But if it takes screaming to get the best out of a player, you have to accept that."

So the question remains, who will be Murray's next coach? A trip to watch WBA heavyweight champion David Haye training in Miami last week proved inspirational for the boxing aficionado, and what he took from it suggests Lendl, Connors and co should not be waiting by the phone.

"I joke around a lot with the guys that I work with and David was saying it's exactly the same with him. He works with [trainer and manager] Adam Booth, who had never coached anyone before, but they work perfectly together, they get on well and he's trained him to be a world champion," Murray adds.

"It's not always about the high-profile guy. He laughs around and jokes in between training but, once you're in the ring or on the court, that's the time to work and be serious and not be joking around or messing about.

"That's something I think I've done well and it's why I've enjoyed being on the tour more the last few years, but it's something you definitely need to focus on - that when you're on the match court everyone is focused and ready to work."

And when the work stops, Murray will not expect his new coach to be thinking up pranks or keeping him entertained over dinner.

"The coach-player relationship is important off the court," he says. "I'm not saying they have to be comedians. You just need to get on well with them, but they don't have to be incredibly funny.

"That's definitely not one of the things I'm too worried about. It's about getting the best out of them when they're on the court."

This year's Aegon Championships take place from 6-12 June and will be broadcast live by BBC Sport.

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see also
Murray to work with coaching team
06 Apr 11 |  Tennis
Murray joins strong Queen's field
06 Apr 11 |  Tennis
Murray parts with coach Corretja
29 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Del Potro joins Queen's line-up
22 Mar 11 |  Tennis
Djokovic excited by Queen's prospect
03 Feb 11 |  Tennis
Djokovic outplays Murray in final
30 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Querrey wins Aegon Championships
13 Jun 10 |  Tennis
Fired-up Roddick wins at Queen's
17 Jun 07 |  Tennis


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